Man quarantined for 14 days on military base warns new evacuees: 'It's not fun'
TORONTO -- Canadian winters have a tendency to feel like they drag on forever. But for Michael Schellenberg, two weeks of quarantine on an Ontario military base has felt particularly tedious.
“This whole experience has honestly been like one really long day with a couple naps in the middle,” he told CTV News Channel on Thursday.
Schellenberg is among the hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan preparing to leave the Canadian Forces Base Trenton on Friday. They have been there ever since a chartered plane flew them from the epicentre of COVID-19, which has killed 2,100 people and infected 76,000 others in less than three months.
As those evacuees leave Trenton, a new group of Canadian tourists from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan will arrive for medical tests. Once cleared, they will be quarantined for 14 days at a hotel and conference centre in Cornwall, Ont.
Schellenberg offered advice for the new wave of evacuees, who have already spent two weeks quarantined on the ship: things are about to get boring.
“Bring some alcohol – no, (I’m) kidding,” Schellenberg joked.
“Just go in with an open mind. It’s not fun. Nobody enjoys it. But it’s absolutely necessary. We’re leaving an infected area to come here. There’s no sense leaving an infected area just to come here and catch it. So it’s not going to be fun.”
Only healthy Canadians aboard the cruise ship are allowed to fly home. Those who are sick will remain in Japan for treatment. Officials say 47 Canadians of the 250 on board the ship tested positive for the virus.
Two cruise ship passengers – a Japanese man and woman in their 80s – have died in hospital, officials confirmed Thursday. Their deaths are the first from the ship.
The Canada-bound flight left Tokyo International Airport at 4:30 a.m. local time and is scheduled to land in Trenton at 4 a.m. EDT on Friday.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it’s possible that some evacuees may be able to leave quarantine sooner than the designated two-week period if they continue to test negative for the virus and don’t have any symptoms. Hajdu said that will be determined by the chief public health officer of Canada on a case-by-case basis.
To pass the time, Schellenberg and his partner have invented their own games. They’ve spent many an afternoon using spoons to flick plastic Easter eggs into their son’s crib.
“Do what I did, make some stupid games, make the most of it. It’s only two weeks,” he said.
For the cruise ship evacuees headed into round two of quarantines, Schellenberg warns that there’s one thing you can’t change once you’re there – your family.
“Choose your loved one carefully because you may be stuck with them for a long time under uncontrolled circumstances,” he said. “I think I chose mine pretty nice.”